Mark E. Howerter
My dad died April 24th, 1994, almost two years ago now. As the
anniversary of his death approaches my mind has been filled with thoughts of him. Dad was
a sergeant in the 134th Infantry Regiment of the 34th Division of the U.S. Army. I have
been thinking a lot about stories he told me about WWII.
Life magazine in 1985 revealed that 1 in 5 Americans had no knowledge of WW II -- a war in
which nearly 15 million people died in battle and more than 38 million civilians were
killed. Newsweek in 1990 reported that nearly 1 out of 3 of America's 17 yr. olds could
not identify which countries the US fought against in WW II. Some even doubt that the
holocaust really happened.
In April 1993, just days before the opening of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum,
newspapers across the country reported that 22% of American adults surveyed in a major
public opinion poll said they thought it was possible that "the Nazi extermination of
the Jews" never took place. "
Nobody would have ever been able to convince my dad that the holocaust never happened. Dad
told me that his most poignant memories of the war were the Jewish prisoners he helped
liberate. They were nothing more than skin over skeletons -- too weak to feed themselves.
Dad and his buddies fed some of them from their own rations.
I have never spent a single night out in a foxhole thousands of miles from my loved ones
in a pouring rain. I have never woke up in the morning with the thought on my mind that
people will be shooting bullets at me today and trying to kill me. Many have. I'd like to
thank each one of you who fought for my freedom.
Before our troops even sailed from the USA to Britain to prepare for D-Day they had to
have a P.O.M. (Preparation for Overseas Movement) qualification card. The P.O.M. Card
certified that the recipient had passed 23 specific requirements. A couple of these
requirements were a signed will and power of attorney form. Every soldier knows his life
is at risk.
General Eisenhower is reported to have had a tears in his eyes as he watched the first
wave of planes take off for the massive D-Day assault. He knew many of those American
pilots would not be returning home. The casualty rate was nearly 50 percent for the first
wave of fighters. Many of the 2,000 plus American casualties of D-Day died without ever
firing a shot.
If everything had gone right it would have been a very costly mission, but nearly
everything went wrong. It became a slaughter. There is only one reason we can look back at
D-Day as a great success. When the best laid plans went awry, when fog caused landing
sites to be missed, when amphibious craft landed off course, when a whole German division
of troops showed up unexpectedly on Omaha Beach, brave individuals improvised and devised
a "Plan B."
Eisenhower said there was no plan B. D-Day had to work. There was no other plan. It was
only because many brave soldiers thought on their feet and formed their own personal
"plan B's" that D-Day was a success.
One such soldier was a Col. Canham. Robert Slaughter told how his company and their Lt.
Col. were holed up on the beach trying to get up their courage to attack. Out of nowhere
their company leader, Col. Canham, ran up the beach screaming at the Lt. Col. to get his
men up and off the beach. According to Sgt. Slaughter, Col. Canham had been shot and had
to have been in horrible pain. Slaughter thought, "If he could do it, we could do
it" and off they went right behind him.
My dad hit the Normandy beaches of France just 30 days after D-Day and (along with a few
others) helped liberate 130 towns in France, Belgium and Germany. As he passed the fresh
graves of fellow Americans in the cemetery at Colleville-sur Mer he must have had a lot of
the same thoughts of grief and gratitude for those men that I now have as I think of him.
My wife and I went to a U.S. Army Jazz Ambassadors concert a few years ago. The concert
consisted of mostly World War II era selections and was attended largely by veterans of
that war. The average age of attendee would have easily been well over 60. There were a
lot of crew cuts. The music was interesting, but I didn't buy the tape. A brass band
concert is not really my kind of music, but it was not the music or the musicians that
made such an impression on me.
I am a people person and I like to watch people. I spent much of the concert taking in the
actions, reactions and demeanor of the crowd. The respect for each other and the musicians
was a thing to behold. The love for God and country and fellow man was impossible to miss.
I couldn't help but contrast this with pictures of goings on at rock concerts by those of
At one point the band played a medley of the various theme songs of each branch of the
military. The band leader asked the veterans to stand as their theme song was played.
There were tears in some eyes and one particular 60's plus Marine I will long remember.
When the theme started out, "From the Halls of Montezuma..." he stood and
clapped and cheered and waved his hands in the air. It was not a fanatical or weird
display but one of patriotism such as I have never seen before or since in my 38 years.
From the opening of "The Star Spangled Banner" until the last song was played I
experienced the joy and pain of many memories of personal sacrifice for the good of others
in that auditorium. Perhaps most striking to me was the way that generation left the
Approximately 2,000 people calmly got up and headed for the exits. The exit doors all led
to corridors around the circular auditorium which dumped people into narrow stairways.
People that had never met struck up conversations with each other about the concert,
memories and how bad their knees hurt climbing all those stairs.
What was missing was rudeness, pushing, and shoving and trying to be the first one into
the parking lot. I couldn't help but think how glad I was that those narrow corridors were
not packed with those of my generation leaving a Megadeth concert. Somebody or several
somebodies would have probably been injured or even crushed to death in those narrow
I am thankful that I am still young, but I am deeply concerned for my generation and even
more so for the generation coming up now. Since we took prayer, the Bible, the 10
Commandments, and God out of the schools, what I saw in that auditorium and in the halls
and stairs afterwards will be gone in a few years if we don't change the course we are on
now. Once the World War II generation is gone.
We have taught our children for a generation or two that they are not a creation of God,
but a product of natural selection and survival of the fittest. Taught that they are
animals, is it any wonder they act like animals? What I saw in the 60's plus generation
was not survival of the fittest, and me first, but something entirely different. I don't
know what churches if any those 2,000 people go to or whether they voted Republican or
Democrat, but I do know they had something I will sorely miss if it is allowed to die out.
More Americans got married in 1946, fifty years ago, than any 12 month period in American
history. Men home from the war were anxious to settle down and start families. This group
is now in their 60's 70's and 80's. In a recent tribute USA Today referred to them as the
"stick to it" generation with a survivor mentality.
These men and women grew up during the Great Depression and lived through the worst war in
the history of mankind and lost friends and loved ones to it.
Young men rushed to register for armed services and then marched off to war. Before the
fighting ended in 1945, 671,000 Americans had been wounded and 405,000 had given the
supreme sacrifice to buy our freedom. Some of them were only 17 and not even old enough to
I'd like to loosely quote from the March 1996 Focus on the Family newsletter:
The WW II generation raised their kids in the comfort and privilege of post war prosperity
and saw to it that their kids had it easier than they had had it. But sadly the
"stick to it" generation raised the ME generation that grew up in the 60's and
70's and became resentful and angry. They despised their country, its government, its
Christian heritage, its culture, its history, its capitalist economy, its work ethic and
its traditional concept of marriage and family. They experimented blatantly with casual
sex, communal marriages, cohabitation, homosexuality and lesbianism. They used marijuana
LSD, heroin and they sniffed glue and did whatever they could to escape reality. Their
slogan, coined by Berkeley anti war activist Jack Weinberg was, "Don't trust anyone
over 30." That disrespect was aimed at their fathers who had risked death and
dismemberment for their freedom. It was also against their mothers who waited at home for
their fathers hoping every day that they would not be one of the ones who would receive
that dreaded telegram which began, "The War Dept. Regrets to inform you..."
Prayer, the Bible and the ten commandments were removed from our classrooms by the
"ME" generation. Godless Supreme Court judges replaced those which held
traditional family values.
Before prayer was removed from the schools in the 1960's teachers problems were talking in
class, chewing gum, and running in the halls. Now we have to have metal detectors and
security guards in the halls and we pass out condoms BUT we don't allow the Gideons to
pass out their Bibles. Pornography is available in our school libraries but not the Word
The generation who prayed to God, put their hands over their hearts and said the pledge of
allegiance to the American Flag is quickly being replaced with one which channels spirit
guides, meditates on rocks and worships the earth. The generation that went to Europe to
fight to guarantee the freedom of the next is quickly being replaced by one that went to
Canada or Russia to demonstrate and dodge the draft.
A president who led the nation in prayer before the D-Day invasion has been replaced by
one which took three months of negotiations to find one member of his staff willing to say
a prayer at the National Day of Prayer his first year in office.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases are rampant. 30 million babies have been aborted. We now use
abortion as birth control. Divorce rates have skyrocketed, and kids roam the streets all
night in gangs.
What we need is a rediscovery of the Judeo Christian values of the "stick to it"
generation. We have experimented with the new morality and it has failed. We desperately
need to get back to the tried and tested morality of the Bible and of the "stick to
Instead of the ME generation, I say lets become the WE generation. WE need to reclaim the
country that some of you fought for and that so many died for. We cannot bring our fallen
heroes back, but together WE can get this country back on track. WE can instill values to
our young people and recover our morality. WE can elect and support moral leaders, and
eject the immoral riffraff from Washington and our state Capitols. WE can be active in our
homes, our churches, our schools, our communities. And in so doing, we will be honoring
the service that so many performed. Let's stand together and take our country back.
Mark E. Howerter author of The Other
conservative opinion on the net
originating from the rural cornfields of Monmouth, Illinois